Dacotah Tipis – Habitat for Humanity Annual Appeal – 2020

Greetings from Dacotah Tipis!

This year, 2020, was an unfortunate one for our Habitat. We had seven groups signed up to volunteer, but because Covid-19 struck the Crow Creek Reservation in the spring, the Tribal Council asked that no volunteers come at all. They canceled pow-wow and closed the Tribal casino.

As you can imagine, in often crowded conditions in homes on the Reservation, coronavirus can spread quickly. As of this day, June 12, 2020, there have been 39 cases of Covid-19 in the county where most of the Crow Creek Reservation is.

The groups who had planned to come included Baldwin Wallace University (Ohio), the First Unitarian Society of Minneapolis, two medical school students (Virginia), the Pleasant Hill Church of God (Ohio), a Habitat for Humanity (South Carolina), our longest-standing volunteers from the Olivet Congregational Church (Minnesota) the Native Children’s Support (Denmark), and another long-standing volunteer and her family (New York City).

The Board of Directors of Dacotah Tipis Habitat extends their heartfelt thanks to these groups. We ask you all to consider coming in 2021.

Thank you.

Bob Werner

Dacotah Tipis – Habitat for Humanity Annual Appeal – 2019

Dear Friends,

It is a pleasure to greet you as we come to the close of another year and begin to look forward to our projects and progress in the coming year. Just like a tipi, our strength continues to build upon the poles we have already set forth. As friends and supporters of Dacotah Tipis, we have a keen appreciation of what a safe, secure home means to children who have been raised with poverty and uncertainty. As partners in the goals of our organization, we are blessed to be able to count on your support during the holidays, and at times of greatest need.

As this is written today, another storm is forecast that will drop 15 inches or more of snow upon the Dakotas. For families shivering in cars or makeshift housing, the suffering of our Native brothers and sisters and their children is magnified. The elderly become housebound, and the harsh weather places all the most vulnerable at increased risk. The Crow Creek Reservation is remote. The closest town of any size is 30 miles south of Fort Thompson. There are few job opportunities, and unemployment, combined with generational poverty, has crippled the reservation economically. With the recent further cuts in the food stamp program, food insecurity is at an all-time high on the reservation. The suffering is real.

We have shifted our focus in the past year from completing individual homes to making weatherproofing repairs, quality of life repairs, and accommodations to already standing homes and structures. It improves things for so many on the Crow Creek reservation when we can provide repairs to stop roof leaks, to winterize, and to provide clean running water, toilets that flush, safe flooring, secure stairs, and ramps for the wheelchair-bound.

Dacotah Tipis- Habitat for Humanity hosted six groups of volunteers this year:

The universities of Missouri, St. Thomas (St. Paul, MN), Olivet Congregational Church (St. Paul, MN), AmeriCorps (mostly from the east coast) all participated, and we saw the return of a group of former students from Dartmouth College who had all graduated but returned this year. One of them came to Fort Thompson from India! A group of young men and women volunteered for a two month stretch through AmeriCorps, bringing their good spirits and skills.

The University of St. Thomas group returned for the fourth year, Mizzou for the second, and Olivet Congregational group for the tenth year. It sends such a wonderful caring message to the local community when volunteers return. Deeper connections are made, and trusting relationships can form.

Projects these groups accomplished on the Crow Creek Indian Reservation this year included:

Rehabilitating two bathrooms
Several floor and wall repairs
Painting and repairing peeling walls and exteriors
Kitchen repairs
Fence removal
Removal of dead vegetation, a fire hazard
Yard cleanup
Extensive repair to a trailer home that been severely damaged by fire
Installation of French drains (to carry rainwater away from buildings)
Door repairs

Dacotah Tipis received three grants this year, and thanks to the South Dakota Community Foundation (who funded repair materials and supervisor pay), the Central Electric Co-op (for improvements to the volunteer center), and the Home Depot Foundation (who funded repairs to two roofs and siding to be done in 2020).

In addition, the University of St. Thomas completed a marketing study for us, whose recommendations include a new website and improved social media. The website is still a work in progress, but our social media has a wonderful new facelift, thanks to our long-time supporter, Pam Thomas. If you have not already done so, join our Facebook group where we share news on an ongoing basis, offer fundraising opportunities, and keep the wonderful contacts we have made over the years!

Volunteer groups for 2020 are forming now! A number of our wonderful volunteer groups will return, but there is room for new groups.

Among the returning groups:

Olivet Congregational Church members, from Minnesota, who are the longest-serving volunteers that Dacotah Tipis has, and the Ohio-based Pleasant Hill Church of God. New groups for 2020 will include students from Baldwin-Wallace University (Ohio) members of the First Unitarian Society of Minneapolis, and the Living Faith Church group (Omaha, Nebraska).

If you are considering bringing a group in the coming year, please let us know as soon as possible, so that we can optimize your time, talents, and experiences. We would love to include you or your group. Many have told us that spending time volunteering with Dacotah Tipis on the Crow Creek Sioux Reservation has been transformative for them. The accommodations are basic, but comfortable, with men’s and women’s dorms, bathrooms with multiple showers and a wonderful large kitchen where most volunteers prepare and enjoy group meals at night. Volunteers enjoy swims in the river, bonfires at night, and exposure to the rich Native culture.

We currently have a long list of families and individuals who are waiting for needed home repairs, to ensure warmth, safety, running water, and electricity. We can only provide these things with your help. With your funds and volunteer hours, we are able to keep our promise to the local people that we will not abandon them and their needs as others have done in the past. Our board serves on a volunteer basis. Your donations go directly to the purpose you are hoping for, to provide building supplies, tools, and materials for the projects.

Please be generous this holiday season. If you have volunteered with Dacotah Tipis in the past, we are hoping that you will come back. If you have not yet visited, please do. You will not forget the experience. Above all, please offer your financial support to help those who have been repeatedly forgotten and neglected. When families on the reservation need help, we want to be able to tell them that, although they are only seeing us, that there is a whole wonderful, caring community behind us, offering love and compassion.

Wishing you a bright and happy New Year on behalf of those we serve in the lowest median-family income county in the United States.

Mitákuye Oyásiŋ k’a pidámiya do, koda, (We are all related and thank you, friend),

Bob Werner

Dacotah Tipis – Habitat for Humanity Annual Appeal – 2018

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Dear Friends and Supporters of Dacotah Tipis-Habitat for Humanity,

It is a pleasure to greet you during this holiday time! Most of us are now busy making plans
to spend time with friends and family members in our cozy homes and enjoy the
holidays. What we take for granted is not the case for many of our Native American
brothers and sisters and their children. If you are receiving this letter, know that we
consider you part of our community of support for those whom it is our mission to assist.
You may have volunteered on the reservation, provided funding, sent in kind donations, or
offered some support in the past. We thought you would like an update and to hear about
the work we have planned for 2019.

2018 was a productive year for Dacotah Tipis! In the beginning of the year, the Sazue
family and their children were able to move into the home that so many volunteers worked
so hard to complete. It was a wonderful closure to the project, knowing that another family
now has a secure and permanent home, adequate for the needs of their growing family! In
addition, we were able to accomplish the following:

· Repairs on two roofs

· Two complete bathroom plumbing repairs

· Repairs to weak flooring in three homes

· Structural repairs to two buildings

· Installation of handicap access

· Door repairs

· Removal of dead trees and overgrown vegetation

· Structural improvements to our warehouse

In order to serve more families going forward, we made the decision to meet pressing
needs, by prioritizing repairs to existing homes, rather than concentrate on building new
ones at present. It makes such a difference to a family to have a secure roof to hold off the
crippling winter cold! We can serve so many more Crow Creek community members, and
our volunteers have enjoyed meeting so many more of them in this way. We plan to
continue this program through 2019.

In 2018, our volunteers on site included groups from the University of St. Thomas, MN, the
Congregational Church of Brookfield, MA., Dartmouth College, NH, members of the Brauer
family of NY, Kylie (third visit!) her son, Eric, and Josh Brook, also from New York.
We were fortunate to receive several generous grants and donations from the Lavender
Trust Co. of New York, the HRK Foundation in MN, and from an anonymous donor in MN.
Habitat signs were donated by Don Landan. Pam Thomas, in New York, runs an Etsy shop
online, called White Buffalo Gallery, from which all proceeds are donated to Dacotah Tipis.
And of course, Sister Charles Palm continues to raise funds with her weekly Bingo sessions,
and from her very loved Indian Tacos! Many thanks also to those of you who contributed to
our Giving Tuesday Drive on Facebook, and have continued to provide in kind donations for
the community members, such as books and warm clothing for the children. Every
contribution is appreciated.

2018 has seen some changes in our staff and board. The board has hired Rick Voice to
supervise the volunteer’s construction work. Rick brings excellent construction
experience. His cheerful demeanor and easygoing ways have made him a favorite with our
volunteers. He has been a most welcome addition to our team!

We cannot thank the outgoing board members enough for their service. Special thanks to
Red Olson, who has retired, but can still be seen occasionally as he pops in to help with
some of our projects. Thanks to Hank Henderson, for his long time of support for Dacotah
Tipis. He will be missed and we wish him all the best. At the same time, we welcome
newest board member, Gwen Williams, who brings her knowledge and enthusiasm for
making a difference. Dacotah Tipis-Habitat for Humanity has been fortunate and remains
so to have such a dedicated Board of Directors, committed and well informed of issues on
the reservation.

Even though our work is challenging, we are very hopeful for 2019, and for completing our
plans for the coming year. We will continue, with your help, to provide services that ensure
that more families and children in our community will be safe and warm, have viable
plumbing and clean water, and an improved standard of living.

Volunteers are beginning to line up to work in the coming season, but we need funding to
buy the materials that are not donated. The number of houses we can repair will be directly
impacted by the funds we have available for this purpose. Our administrative costs are
minimal, but we do offer Mr. Voice a modest salary. During Spring Break, 2019, two groups
from the University of St. Thomas and the University of Missouri, are scheduled to work.
We have an offer to host ten AmeriCorps volunteers in May and June. This is exciting
because of the skills they can bring to the work. We need to fund the materials they will
require during their seven-week volunteer stay. As we wait for news of a grant approval
from the South Dakota Community Foundation, we know that it will not be enough to cover
our needs.

We are able to continue this important work because of your partnership with us and your
continued support. We never want to have to say no to a family with young children when
they ask for help in repairing their heating system, or their leaking or sagging roof during
the brutal Dakota winters. In this second poorest county in the U.S., the needs are dire.
The suffering is real. Every donation counts. The people of Crow Creek and our Board
members are deeply thankful for your care and concern. We hope that you will give
generously this holiday season, and continue to support our efforts in the future.
Mitauke Oasin. We are all one.

Warmest regards,

Bob Werner


Please print and use this donation form. Make checks payable to Dacotah Tipis Habitat
for Humanity and send to:

Dacotah Tipis Annual Appeal
PO Box 487
Fort Thompson, SD 57339

$25_____ $50_____ $100_____ $500_____ $1000_____ Other_____________
To donate stocks, please email Bob Werner at hfhtipis@midstatesd.net
Please include forms if your employer offers matching donations.

Phone____________________________ Email________________
______ I would like to receive information about volunteer opportunities
Learn More about how you can help!
Dacotah Tipis-Habitiat for Humanity | 605-220-2869 | hfhtipis@midstatesd.net |

Dacotah Tipis Board
Deacon Terry Quilt, Chairman
Sister Charles Palm, Treasurer
Deacon Steve M cLaughlin, Secretary
Denise Campbell, Bob Werner, Philip Friedland
Donita Loudner, Gwen Williams, Dorothy Farmer

Dacotah Tipis Habitat for Humanity Annual Appeal 2017


December, 2017

Dear Volunteers and Donors,

I write to you as a Board member of Habitat for Humanity-Dacotah Tipis on the Crow Creek Sioux Reservation at Fort Thompson in South Dakota.

I am writing to update you on our organization. Jim Huntley has moved on to another opportunity in Texas. The Board of Directors has re-organized our efforts. We have new personnel to greet volunteers, direct volunteer efforts for Habitat building, and offer Native cultural experiences. Tasks have been re-assigned to Board members and others. For example, I am now responsible for the volunteer program.

The Volunteer Center is up and running and is reserved exclusively for volunteer groups.The Volunteer Center has a generous and complete kitchen, sleeping and bathroom facilities for men and women, and can house large groups.It is located below the Golden Age Center in the heart of Fort Thompson.

Since we reorganized, two homes will be ready for occupancy within three weeks, though we still seek funding for a refrigerator, stove, and linoleum for one of those homes, and for repairs to existing homes. We almost continually rehabilitate substandard or damaged homes here on the reservation. Land has been platted and approved by the Crow Creek Sioux Tribe and the Bureau of Indian Affairs for three more homes.

The Board also would like express that we have strong financial needs. The Crow Creek reservation lies in the poorest county in the USA: the median household income of Buffalo County is $22,900, a mere 30% of the national average. Therefore, help must come from outside the Reservation, from people like you.

We would love to have you and your group return to volunteer here on the reservation. We would also be most appreciative of a financial donation. All donations are tax-deductible because Habitat for Humanity – Dacotah Tipis is a 501(3)(c) charitable organization. While I am not a tax lawyer, my Google searches say that you can also deduct mileage and meals (but not your time) for your volunteer efforts.

Please call me at 605-680-0402 or send me e-mail at hfhtipis@midstatesd.net. I will be happy to make arrangements for you or your group.

At this holiday time, please consider donating generously. Donations can be made online to: www.dacotahtipis.org/donate

or mailed to:
Sister Charles Palm at Box 487, Ft. Thompson, SD 57339.

Please visit our website at http://www.dacotahtipis.org/.

Thank you very, very much.


Dr. Robert J. Werner

FIRST UP FOR 2016! The University of St. Thomas volunteers will arrive this weekend.

The Dacotah Tipis Habitat for Humanity volunteer season will start this weekend with a group from the University of St. Thomas. The University of St. Thomas is a private, Catholic, liberal arts, and archdiocesan university located in St. Paul and Minneapolis, Minnesota.
They will be staying at the new Volunteer Center on the Crow Creek Indian Reservation. The group will work be involved in home construction and in the local cultural activities.

This is the information summary provided to the students:

Dates: March 21st – 28th, 2016
Group Size: 2 student leaders, 8 participants
Cost: $500
Quick Facts:

Construction work on the Rez
Learn about the Dakota/Lakota culture and people
Experience life on the Crow Creek Reservation

Host Community:

Coming to Crow Creek will be a life-changing experience. Dacotah Tipis provides a service-learning experience that gives volunteers not only the chance to work across Crow Creek with our Dakota/Lakota friends, but also the chance to be immersed in Dakota/Lakota culture. Dacotah Tipis believes that forming relationships with the Dakota/Lakota people and studying their history, culture, and spirituality as we grow in our understanding about their lives and culture is as important as the work we do. They like to take some time during the week to let our Volunteer groups experience some cultural things, as well as local recreation.
Justice Issues:

Homelessness—Dacotah Tipis will continue, in 2016, the work we began in 1992 – addressing the housing crisis and rehabilitation and renovation needs on the Rez. With the help of volunteers we continue to see dreams of Homeownership come true for our Dakota people.

Poverty— Crow Creek is the poorest area of the United States, and living in desperate poverty creates its own culture. Acting and living according to Dakota/Lakota culture and living in a culture of poverty are often two different things, and at times are inconsistent with each other. As you travel around the Rez and interact with the residents here, be mindful of the fact that both cultures exist here and it is very difficult to distinguish between the two.
Cultural Opportunities:

Cultural Walks, which may include visiting a Sundance Grounds or CemeteriesCultural Talks/Roundtables with various Elders/Members of the Crow Creek Sioux TribeEvenings at the lake with Bonfires, food and/or smoresSweat Lodge Ceremony/Smoking of the Chanupa (Prayer Pipe)Searching for some of the Buffalo HerdExperiencing the Dakota/Lakota languagePowwow (Annually in August)Pristine Reservoir Swimming 9. Fishing a world class Walleye FisheryNature Walks:Gathering Herbs, Digging Turnips, Picking berries or plums (depending on season)Gathering Rocks (Grandfathers) and/or wood for campfires & Inipis (Sweat Lodge Ceremony)
Food, Lodging, and Travel:

The group will drive a 12-passenger van to South Dakota. You will be staying in the Dacotah Tipis Volunteer Center. It is a Volunteer Center built by volunteers for volunteers. The Volunteer Center has a beautiful fully functioning kitchen where the VISION group will spend community time preparing and eating meals together. The Volunteer Center also includes bunking areas for women and men.

The trip fee of $500 includes van rental, site transportation, lodging, work materials for the site, meals, and programmed group activities. Additional expenses not included in the program fee, include: spending money for souvenirs as determined by the group agreement and food en route to site (~$50).

For more information, visit: http://www.dacotahtipis.org/

Construction is underway… Come join the fun!

Work with us as we put the finishing touches on new Volunteer Center and continue the build of a new home on the Crow Creek Reservation. The progress is good, but we need more volunteer groups and individuals to continue the momentum. In other words, we need you.

A visit to Crow Creek can be a life changing experience – rewarding and fun. As you work in one of the poorest area of the country, you will become immersed into the Native American culture, and by the time you leave, you will know your efforts have provided a family with a chance for a better future.
To volunteer contact:
Bob Werner at 605-680-0402
Dacotah Tipis HFH
P.O. Box 487
Fort Thompson, SD 57339
Email: hfhtipis@midstatesd.net   

Here are some pictures of the builds now in process:

Building the New home:

 Crow Creek South Dakota  Crow Creek South Dakota  Crow Creek South Dakota
Crow Creek South Dakota Crow Creek South Dakota Crow Creek South Dakota
Volunteering on the Crow Creek Reservation Volunteering on the Crow Creek Reservation
Volunteering on the Crow Creek Reservation Volunteering on a Native American Reservation Volunteering on the Crow Creek Reservation

Volunteer Center:

Build Homes in Crow Creek Build Homes in Crow Creek Build Homes in Crow Creek
Volunteer in Native America Volunteer in Native America Volunteer in Native America

Around the Crow Creek Reservation

Improve Housing on the Crow Creek Reservation Improve Housing on the Crow Creek Reservation Improve Housing on the Crow Creek Reservation
Improve Housing on the Crow Creek Reservation Improve Housing on the Crow Creek Reservation Improve Housing on the Crow Creek Reservation

Dacotah Tipis Intern Needed

Internship Position: Administrative Office Assistant

Internship Term: Summer/Fall 2014 (Maximum of 625 hours)

Internship Compensation: $8.00 per hour

Office Assistant Purpose: Maintain office operations daily; receive and distribute all communications; serve partner families, vendors and volunteers; maintain office supplies and equipment.

Office Assistant Duties:
• Forwards information by receiving and distributing communications; collecting, creating and mailing correspondence; creating, copying and filing information and documentation.
• Uses and maintains office equipment; keeps track of office supply inventories; monitors equipment operation; reports any needs, issues or failures to the Director.
• Maintains office schedule by keeping the Director’s calendar, the Board of Director’s calendar, and the Volunteer Center calendar.
• Serves partner families, vendors, and volunteers of the organization by answering questions, forwarding information and messages, scheduling and confirming appointments, scheduling and confirming volunteer reservations, and ensures completion and filing of all volunteer paperwork.
• Updates job knowledge by participating in educational opportunities such as my.habitat.org and habitatsouthdakota.org training.
• Enhances organization strength and reputation by striving to excel at daily tasks, accepts ownership of job accomplishments and failures, and explores opportunities to add value and capacity to the mission of the organization.

Skills/Qualifications: Office Experience – General, Scheduling, Telephone Skills, Typing, Documentation Skills, Meeting Planning, Verbal Communication, Written Communication, Dependability, Attention to Detail, Administrative Writing Skills, Internet and Face Book literacy.

Client Contact

Greet walk-in customers and clients and introduce first-time visitors to the organization by providing information about the firm and its services. Offer company brochures or literature, website address, and Face Book friendships. Answer telephone calls, using proper telephone etiquette and professional speaking tone. Direct calls to the appropriate staff members and take accurate messages when staffers are unavailable. Keep a record of all inquiries made by potential volunteers and donors.


Review all mail including e-mail; correspond within your authority and direct remaining correspondence to appropriate addressees. Pull and attach necessary file information to correspondence, or prepare for handling by other staffers. Prepare outgoing mail and packages, using correct postage and packaging units, such as letters, large envelopes and boxes.


Transcribe dictation or compose correspondence as directed. Proofread documents before preparing a final draft or provide drafts to supervisor for review and approval before putting it in final form. Distribute correspondence to proper addressees. Attach proper documentation and information to support the correspondence as needed, such as board minutes that may need to be attached to a cover letter.

Board Meetings

Assist the Director as needed to prepare for monthly board meetings. Receive board minutes from the board secretary; produce final copies of board meeting minutes for the following month’s board meeting, and file hard and electronic copies after approval by a quorum of the board.

Database Management

Manage company information in electronic databases and update accordingly. Ensure back up of computer files at scheduled intervals. Coordinate database management projects with the Director.


Become familiar with the office and equipment. Take measures necessary to learn the operation and basic maintenance of the equipment. Monitor computer and office equipment to maximize productivity and reduce down time.

Administrative Specialties

The Habitat for Humanity organization and the construction field provide their own special demands. You will assist local residents with housing inquiries providing information on the Habitat program, helping them explore our home ownership opportunity, and assist selected families in their journey of building and owning a home. You may also at times refer clients to other local agencies that have common goals to further assist them. Also unique to Habitat and other NGOs, is the service of volunteers (both individuals and groups) who travel here from all over the nation and Europe. As a host agency for HFHI’s Global Village Program, Dacotah Tipis strives to provide all guests with a full and rewarding experience during their stay. You will assist the Director and Volunteer Liaison as needed to ensure our guests have a fantastic stay.


Strong verbal and written communication skills are key, with the ability to adapt communication style to audience, from partner families, volunteers and staffers to executive leadership. Presentation skills and public speaking skills are desirable due to working with groups and visitors from around the world.

The ability to work with limited supervision is also a key personal attribute. Be able to consistently exercise sound judgment and discretion. Pay attention to confidentiality of business data and personal information of clients, employees, volunteers and Board executives, and abide by all tribal, state and federal laws. You should have proficiency with MS Windows operating systems, including software such as MS Word, MS Outlook and MS Publisher. Will be familiar with Facebook or will be willing to become familiar with daily Facebook networking.
Your minimum education should be a high school diploma or equivalent. Pursuit of an associate degree in business or a bachelor’s degree is strongly preferred. Exposure to business concepts, practices and principles is highly desirable.

Read about the Crow Creek Reservation and the Dacotah Tipis Organization

For consideration of placement contact:
Bob Werner @ 605-245-2450 office, 605-680-0402 mobile.

Dacotah Tipis Habitat for Humanity
P.O. Box 487 Fort Thompson, SD 57339 USA
Phone: (605) 245-2450 Fax: (605) 245-2450
Email: hfhtipis@midstatesd.net Website: www.dacotahtipis.org

Overview of the Crow Creek Reservation and the Dacotah Tipis Organization

Location: Crow Creek Sioux Indian Reservation, Buffalo County South Dakota, Home of the Crow Creek Sioux Tribe, descendants of the Dakota/Lakota Oyata displaced to the Fort Thompson prison and reservation encampment after the Dakota War of 1862.

Demographics: Located on the beautifully scenic Missouri River in central South Dakota, the Dacotah Tipis HFH affiliate office is within walking distance to the Big Bend Dam at Fort Thompson, giving our volunteers extremely convenient access to swimming beaches, picnic areas, primitive and full amenities camping, fishing and exploring.

Well know in walleye fishing circles across the nation, Lake Francis Case (below) and Lake Sharpe (above) provide some of the best fishing in the mid-west and upper plains for walleye, small-mouth bass, northern pike, catfish, paddle-fish and white bass. Our volunteers and visitors fall in love with the Missouri River at first sight, and many seek its cool refreshing comfort after a long day working on the Habitat partner family’s home.



Its remarkably clean water comes to us from the Montana Rocky Mountains snow melt, yet warms nicely into the summer hosting frolicking swimmers well into the evenings. Always a wonderful opportunity to join the local kids at the swimming hole.




After supper and reflection, our North Shore use area immediately upstream from the dam is perfect for outdoor mass celebrations, reflection, daily roundtables and large bonfires with barbeques and S’mores.



Population: Although the Crow Creek Reservation encompasses 125,591 acres, the tribe only consists of approximately 1,230 enrolled members living on reservation, again consisting primarily of exiled descendants of the Minnesota Bands- Mdewakanton (People of Spirit Lake), and Ihanktonwan (People of the End).

During the mass relocation of many Dakota after 1862, over one third of the people died from disease and starvation leaving a decimated population to begin building a new community at Fort Thompson. Many, many never completed the journey.


Pictured here, the Medicine Crow family cut a caution-tape “Ribbon of Hope” for the future of their children as they break ground on their new home in the Habitat development. County wide for Buffalo County – South Dakota, the population was 1,912 as of the 2010 census, with the majority of non-Native residents being white farmers and ranchers.



Basic economy: Typical to the Great Plains, the largest industry here is agriculture. We are in the heart of America’s breadbasket, and corn, wheat, milo, sorghum and soy beans cover any tillable landscape here.
Dacotah Tipis has even turned a shovel to 5 acres of cornfield to create our latest housing development containing six, three-quarter acre lots. Being very rural and remote, most local employment opportunities consist of tribal administration, tribal utilities, tribal schools hotel and casino operations, and Bureau of Indian Affairs admin, realty and road departments. The average median income of resident households in Buffalo County, South Dakota was $12,692, and the median income for a family was $14,167 as of the 2010 census. That’s annual income!

Cultural/ethnic background: Volunteering on Crow Creek is an immersion into the lives of the present and past Great Sioux Nation. It is a privilege to visit and serve here; a community of old ways and new tribulations, and a community with new ways and old tribulations. Immerse yourself into a conversation of raw local history with one of our tribal elders, or challenge your wits and stamina by engaging in the high-energy environment of the Boys and Girls Club of Three Districts during non-construction diversified volunteering efforts.

“Waste Mani” (washte’-mo’ny) means “To walk in a good way”.
Daily, volunteers diversify their efforts of serving our community in many good ways. We don’t just build homes here, we build bridges of hope & reconciliation working with children at the Boys and Girls Club, Elders at the Golden Age Center, and with other local programs and agencies here on the Rez.


Affiliate history: Dacotah Tipis was founded in 1992 by an ecumenical group of ministry from three local churches in Fort Thompson in an effort to help alleviate the critical housing shortage and conditions on the reservation. When the organization received affiliation status with HFHI, Dacotah Tipis became the very first Native American Habitat! It has always been a struggle for the very impoverished and ultra-rural affiliate, but to this day has survived to be the only active and building Native American Habitat affiliate.

Proud to be a supporter of our state SSO and mission, Dacotah Tipis strives to continually participate in statewide training events, networking opportunities, and fundraising galas.
Pictured is a Dacotah Tipis raffle basket of our local Native art and craft on display at HFH SD’s annual event. The collection was put together by our donors, volunteers and board members.
Community housing need: “Situation Critical” Locally on the reservation there is a critical housing shortage forcing multi-generational families to live unbearably cramped living situations. Much of the housing stock that exists is older and in poor condition.

Due to ancient ways of taking care of the village, cases of families housing immediate and extended family members to the tune of 12 persons in 2 bedroom homes are pretty common, with children lacking not only bedrooms, but also the beds to sleep upon. The housing stock on the reservation is mostly government rental housing with some old self-help program homes mixed in on family parcels. The rest consists of trailers and very old homes that lack weatherization and maintenance to withstand the brutal -30 degree F winter temperatures and winds here.

Meeting the need: Oh, there is hope! In 2009 Dacotah Tipis found a new Director to invigorate the program with some badly needed funding sources and a greater and more consistent volunteer base. The creation of our new public relations and marketing campaigns has significantly boosted donations and support, as well as providing a steady stream of fantastic volunteers from all over the nation and Europe. Leveraging these donations and volunteer man hours with local fundraising and volunteer efforts, Dacotah Tipis has been able to close on and dedicate 2 homes to families just in the last few years. This home pictured above is owned by the Medicine Crow family, our 2013 closing and dedication.

Building Globally: As we build locally, Dacotah Tipis Tithes to build globally. A short year after it’s founding in 1992, Dacotah Tips began its support of Habitat Guatemala thru a global tithe initiative program. As the old saying goes; “Wish for others, that, you wish to receive” Since 1993, our commitment to Habitat Guatemala has resulted in 8 families served, with new houses to call home and raise their children in. Our goal remains: 1 home here and 1 home there, per year.

Newsletter The Homeland Childrens Foundation…

Dear Friends,

Many of you have asked how you can become more personally involved with our projects on the Sioux Reservation in Fort Thompson, South Dakota. As you may know, our activities are primarily done in cooperation with Dacotah Tipis, the local affiliate of Habitat for Humanity. has been working feverishly to complete a new volunteer center in Fort Thomson to house those who with to participate in projects on the reservation.

A week has been set aside, beginning August 15th, 2014, for those families who wish to visit and participate in helping out on the reservation. This is a particularly exciting time in Fort Thompson, because the annual Native American Pow Wow will be held right there from August 16-18th! Families will have the unique opportunity to witness real native American culture, dance, arts,crafts, and native life.

This would be a wonderful way for your children to learn something about the history of the area, which spans the banks of the Missouri River, part of the Lewis and Clark expedition.

Dacotah Tipis could host you at the center, or at the local Catholic church. The accommodations are simple, bunk beds and shared bathroom facilities. Habitat asks for a donation of $200 per person per week to cover the cost of each person’s simple accommodations, building supplies, and running the center, but no one who wants to volunteer is turned away if they cannot pay. Parents must provide direct supervision for young children. Older children can participate in the builds, but need to be 18 or older to use power tools.

After the Pow Wow, participants would be expected to volunteer on a build for several days. Tasks might include hammering beds together, doing simple electrical work, framing a house, pouring cement, painting, gardening, cooking, or working with the local youth groups. Habitat will require that you sign a basic waiver. During downtime, there is fishing for walleye, swimming in the Missouri River, and sometimes, horseback riding. Life on the reservation will allow you to view firsthand the challenges faced by the people who live there, and you will be able to make a difference by volunteering some of your time, skills, and caring.

If you are thinking about joining us, you might like to know that there are quite wonderful attractions for your family to enjoy in South Dakota, despite how remote the reservation is. Little House on the Prairie fans can visit the Laura Ingalls Homestead, which features covered wagon rides and great information about prairie life. Mount Rushmore is to the west of the reservation, in the heart of the black Hills/Badlands area. Badlands National Park is like no other you have seen! The Corn Place in Mitchell is a classic stop along Highway 90, featuring huge mosaics made out of…corn! You might think of adding some days at the beginning or end of your stay on the reservation to take in some of the sights. South Dakota is one of the most beautiful places in the U.S., big blue skies, endless prairies (where the bison still roam) and the Missouri River.

You would need to arrive in Fort Thompson on August 15th to begin. You need to be responsible for your own transportation. If you fly in to Sioux Falls, you will need to rent a car at the airport to drive the approximately 125 miles to Fort Thompson.

You can buy simple groceries at the convenience store in Fort Thompson, and fix meals in the volunteer center. There is a new green market that operates at least one day a week in the summer. There is a small cafe, a small casino which serves meals, and a very simple, clean motel, if you prefer not to stay in the volunteer center. Be aware that Buffalo County is the poorest county in the U.S., and it is remote. Supplies are limited.

To help get ready for volunteers, Homeland has set up a registry at Target.com so families can provide some of the items that will be needed at the center. Here is the link: http://www.target.com/wedd/registry/5cTC9m_eMDcnxy2jjHtERQ

I already purchased one of the coffee makers, but if you are planning to be there, I strongly suggest looking into the shower curtains!

I hope a number of you can join in. It may be a life changing experience for you and your family. If you can’t come to South Dakota, please consider donating through the Target registry, sending a check, or gathering children’s books for grades 1-12. Books do not need to be new. You can also provide a $200 sponsorship for someone to participate in the build.

You can send tax deductible donations to:
Homeland Children’s Foundation
121 New York Avenue
Congers, NY 10920

If you are interested in participating in the Habitat build and would like more information, send an email to: Pam


From: Pam McClure

Volunteering on the Crow Creek Indian reservation in Fort Thompson, South Dakota has been a life-changing experience for my husband Bob and I.

After researching Habitat for Humanity opportunities, we realized that the Crow Creek reservation offered the volunteer work we had been seeking, and the Native American cultural experiences we enjoy. For the past two summers we have traveled in our motor home from South Carolina to the South Dakota paradise.

Although there are a variety of accommodations available to volunteers (hotels, resorts, local churches, a volunteer center under construction, and a few campgrounds on Lake Sharpe), we find that living in our motor home is ideal for us because it provides us all the conveniences of home.

My challenge to those of you who travel via RV is this…
Travel to and volunteer at Crow Creek with Jim, the energetic and enthusiastic director of the Dacotah Tipis Habitat for Humanity projects!  You will have unique opportunities to help Native Americans build homes for themselves and their families; view beautiful, rolling hills that border the resevoir, enjoy water recreation and outstanding fishing opportunities; and immerse yourself in Native American culture.

We have worked on a Habitat house, spent quality time with local residents, and learned valuable information about the Native Americans who live here. We are blessed to have this opportunity! Next summer will be our third trip to Crow Creek!   We and the Habitat community look forward to spending time volunteering with you here at the reservation.


Pam McClure & Bob Vicars

If you would like to come to South Dakota and join in all the fun this year, the contact info is below…

Bob Werner
Dacotah Tipis Habitat for Humanity
P.O. Box 487
Fort Thompson, SD 57339
Email: hfhtipis@midstatesd.net
Website: www.dacotahtipis.org


Learn about the Dacota 38

Click here for Full Dacota 38 movie

If you plan to volunteer, please become familiar with the best practices for safety and loss prevention.

Volunteer Safety Training

Christ Episcopal Church on the Crow Creek Indian Reservation
Faith Based Partnerships

Click the image below to see the Google Map. Dacotah Tipis – Habitat for Humanity
See us on:
Dacotah Tipis – Habitat for Humanity

Dacotah Tipis – Habitat for Humanity

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